Background and purpose: Patient satisfaction with physical therapy is used as an outcome variable. The purpose of this study was to develop and test an instrument used to determine which variables are associated with the satisfaction of patients receiving outpatient physical therapy.
Subjects: During the pilot study, 191 patients participated, and 1,868 patients then participated in the main phase of this work.
Methods: Using a survey instrument developed by the authors, subjects responded to global questions concerning overall satisfaction with physical therapy. Content validation of the instrument was investigated using item correlation, principal components analysis, and factor analysis. Reliability was measured using the standard error of measurement. Concurrent validity was investigated by correlating summary scores of the final survey instrument with global measures of satisfaction.
Results: Reliability was best for a 10-item questionnaire. Patient satisfaction was most associated with items that reflected a high-quality interaction with the therapist (eg, time, adequate explanations and instructions to patients). Environmental factors such as clinic location, parking, time spent waiting for the therapist, and type of equipment used were not strongly correlated with overall satisfaction with care.
Discussion and conclusion: Because the time the therapist spent with patients and the behavior of the therapists are important for patient satisfaction, emphasis on cost-cutting, high patient volume, and the use of "care extenders" may jeopardize satisfaction.